Bursts of Teaching Ideas


Photo by Ikhsan Sugiarto on Unsplash

Sympathy Ice

A sobbing child shows the teacher a bump on his arm. Another little person extends her hand, “See this cut here? It hurts.” Marie complains, “When I go like this, it hurts!” as she pushes her hands together in a very unnatural manner!

Sometimes the children just need some attention, someone to look at that minute scratch or little bump, someone to care that this doesn’t feel good. I look at these injuries, comment, give some attention, a pat on the shoulder, and tell them what to do. Often, they need to be able to take some action and that satisfies the need. For “My belly hurts,” I tell them to go to the bathroom and get a drink. For “My head hurts,” advise them to take a drink. Letting them know that soon it will be lunchtime, or “Recess is coming soon and you can get some fresh air” also helps. A teacher I once worked with would sometimes get the ice pack and let the child have some “sympathy ice” as he called it. He knew the child really didn’t need ice but did need someone to care and show some sympathy, and that ice pack worked wonders.

Edible Punctuation Marks

We made learning about periods, commas, question marks, and exclamation marks exciting by making edible punctuation marks. We used red hots for periods, elbow macaroni for commas, and stick pretzels with red hot dots for the exclamation marks.  We made a question mark by curving a piece of string licorice and adding a red hot dot. Other round items such as gum drops, round crackers, mini-marshmallows, or cereal would also work for the periods and dots.

Take Note of Good Books

Our Book Week theme this year was “Take Note of Good Books,” combining reading with a musical theme. We followed the theme in decorations as we hung musical notes and symbols, displayed art projects with a musical theme, and had a table display of a hymnal, Bible, and decorated 45 rpm records. A collection of creatively designed musical notes flowed up the side of the doorway and across the top in a fascinating display. (The students had turned musical notes into animals or other objects.) A banner of the theme hung across the front entrance and inflatable musical instruments hung from the library ceiling.

Each class set a goal for how many books they would read in the week and as students read books, they put musical notes on the large staff outside their door. (The staffs were made with a chalk-holder which held black Sharpies and were drawn with some waves across a long piece of paper.) Each class had a staff for their notes and made the notes by putting a fingerprint note on a line or space and drawing on the note’s stem. Classes who met their goal were rewarded with drumsticks (the ice cream kind!)  After chapel, the elementary students enjoyed a program that combined books and music as they sang through several books (On Top of Spaghetti, Teddy Bears’ Picnic, The Wheels on the Bus, This Little Light of Mine).

Wrinkled Hearts

I really like this little poem:

Before you act,

Think and be smart.

It’s hard to fix

A wrinkled heart.

I typed it up and displayed it in the center of a bulletin board. I cut out six large hearts and wrinkled them up then spaced them around the poem. Every few days I place a smooth, unwrinkled heart on a wrinkled heart. The smooth heart has a verse or saying that would help to encourage a wrinkled heart. To go along with this, I read the book Chrysanthemum to my class and each time the children in the story spoke unkind things I made a big wrinkle in a large paper heart. We talked then about how we want to be careful what we say and do and how we treat people. We tried to smooth out the wrinkles, but could not get them to go away. We compared this to the hearts of people and how we might hurt someone’s heart (feelings).

(Chrysanthemum is by Kevin Henkes. I do not know who wrote the poem. I tried to find that info, but could not. This idea is not totally my idea, but I’ve adapted it from some ideas I found online.)

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